House in the Middle, The
- Publication date
- Public Domain
- Digitizing sponsor
- National Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau. Produced with the cooperation of the Federal Civil Defense Administration.
Illustrates the importance of good housekeeping and heat reflectant value of white paint. Photographed during the atomic blast at the Nevada proving grounds.
Ken Smith sez: Getting the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association to co-sponsor this production probably scored points with the anti-government-spending Republican administration of 1954, and it certainly created a surreal civil defense film to puzzle future generations. In an attempt to demonstrate "atomic heat's effects on American homes," miniature houses are built in the Nevada desert and exposed to atomic blasts. "What do these tests prove? Many things!" explains the optimistic narrator. By practicing "civil defense housekeeping" -- keeping your yard neat and giving the house a fresh coat of paint (hint, hint) -- you can prevent your home from being burnt to a crisp in an atomic blast! What difference this will make to you after the overpressure bursts your lungs, the thermal wave sets your skin on fire and the radiation makes you piss blood, is not explained. Produced in conjunction with the National Clean Up - Paint Up - Fix Up Bureau.
- Closed captioning
- United States
- Run time
Subject: Sick of your neighbors' junk bringing down property values? Show them this.
Subject: A Layer of Paint and Plastic Seatcovers
This production (using laughable houses that look like that of the postwar immigrants from Scotland) is living proof that McCarthy's job wasn't done yet. And today, of course, its all too obvious.
But heavens to mergatroid, except for Al Gore, what dimwit would ever take their science and technology from an old white guy? Sheesh.
Subject: Host/Narrator Question
Subject: Clear your yard- except flowers
Subject: An interesting pile of fear mongering garbage!
Subject: helpful tips
Subject: Excellent Film... Civil defense is a civic duty
Subject: Best Film I've Ever Seen
Subject: Cold War Fear Marketing
Subject: Hard to Believe
Subject: Seriously? Really!?!
Subject: The most...
And don't forget if your going to paint it, paint it white, just like your neighbors, and their neighbors, and theirs... The way to survival is conformity!!!
(I'm rating it a three, cuz I had to pay the rest of my star's in taxes to pay for that 50 year old info-propoganda-mercial @#$%&)
Subject: The video is faked
BUT, it seems no one has noticed that the film has glaring lies.
When they show the two houses exposed to the blast, the "messy" house is mocked for being on fire, and the "clean" house is shown intact, seemingly safe from the blast, because it didn't have newspapers in a magazine rack.
However, they keep showing the "clean" house being burned in a raging inferno! You can tell because the "clean" house kept the left side of its roof, and the "messy" house lost the left side of its roof. The movie keeps showing a blazing house with the left-side roof intact, and claims it was the "messy" house. They then cut to the same house, with the left-side roof intact, and remark how the "clean" house didn't catch on fire.
You can also notice that the "clean" house is shown on fire by the scorched paint pattern on the front. The identifiable pattern around the "window" can be seen immediately following the blast, then again when the house is engulfed in flames, and is referred to as the "messy" house, when in fact it is the "clean" house.
Interesting propaganda from the Atomic Age. Perhaps the subliminal message in the film was, "If you noticed the lies in this movie, you wouldn't expect to survive the blast anyway."
I give it 5 stars for its historical value, and true entertainment it provides.
Subject: From the perspective of the 1950s
Subject: Too bad the Japanese did not think of paint!
It is too bad that the Japanese people who were cooked alive by the blast that hit them did not know that the answer to continuing life as we know it is in a Jones-Blair paint can!
Subject: White paint vs New Orleans
This was a sincere reaction to a real threat. Like many of these public service films, it shows an effort of cooperation between government and citizens for a united goal. It was proactive in it's thinking, unlike the Katrina debacle, where the good people of Louisiana refused to acknowledge the levy problems posing an imminent threat.
What generation was more naive?
Subject: Which house do you live in?
Subject: Who needs lead when you have varnish!
Subject: Don't Worry--Be Happy!!
Subject: Paranoia, but With a Lesson
Back then folks were asked to pitch in and make a sacrifice, much as they had been during World War 2. Today, our sorry-ass president asks people to buy gas-guzzling hummers - and offers tax rebates on them! How many soldiers does it take to fuel maerica's fleet of automobiles? 2500 and counting.
Sacrifice? Consume less gas? Reduce or eliminate dependence on foreign oil? Bah! Time to go shopping!
I'm ready for a little Cold War "let's pitch in together" kind of thinking.
Subject: The Three Little Pigs of the Atomic Age
Subject: Go Aluminum
Subject: Prudent advice...
Those crazed hippie do gooders in California don't believe this stuff, and let the wooded areas gather tinder and trashy undergrowth. Every summer, an inferno.
What does this all meanÃÂÃÂ¿ SenorÃÂÃÂ¿ 'Cleanliness IS next to godliness.' Those who don't clean will BURN in the flames of hell. Yessir.
Subject: In the event of a nuclear exchange, the couch potatoes will be the first to go...
Subject: Not Fear - Hope.
I remember practicing Duck and Cover in school during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The adults were scared very ,very scared. The "Atomic Clock" was just seconds from midnight ( http://www.thebulletin.org/doomsday_clock/timeline.htm ).
The government did not have to create fear, the fear was real. The government wanted to maintain order. The movie was meant to reassure the general public that things would be alright if order was maintained.
I doubt that most people believed that a fresh coat of paint (lead based, in those days) would really do much but it gave them a sense of some control which they really needed.
Subject: miss atomic bomb
so tending my garden will help prevent my house from burning up like an out-of-control forest fire, eh? and from what i've read, the whole white paint thing is true, but overall this just looks pathetic. (i know, it's been said before, i don't care).
since it won't let me do a review on Duck & Cover (another excellent piece of propaganda), here's a link to a very funny parody: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/flash/dac.html
Subject: Why does everyone hate the government?
Subject: Naive in those days
Subject: Nat'l Paint-up Clean-up or Nuke-down assoc.
"..in every town, you'll find houses like this. Run down, neglected. ... An eyesore, yes. And as you'll see, MUCH MORE. A house that's neglected may be DOOMED, in the atomic age!"
Subject: Good advice and fair propaganda.
The old cold war hysteria is still alive and well today, ( who here still keeps duct tape and plastic sheeting handy egh ? ), only today it's the evil "terrorists" and not the endless "commie hoards" who are out to destroy our way of life.....sigh, the name's change but the story remains the same dosn't it ? And the goverment will always manipulate the feers of the masses to acheve it's own ends.
But the advice offered here is still good advice, for your own health and safty at least, if not for the paranoia inducing fear it was ment to inspire.
All in all a good little propaganda flick with some sage advise worth following.
Subject: my room must be a death box
Subject: "as if it was kindled for a fire"
Subject: Location, Location, Location
This movie underscores the need for us citizens to always turn a critical eye at what the government is saying to us and doing for us. News can be manipulated, public sentiment can be shaped. Never give up your freedom for security.
On a positive note, that areal view of the atomic blast in the middle of the film was beautiful and rare footage of a fireball from an above-ground nuclear explosion. Thanks for preserving that!
Subject: Two agencies in tandem
"....The Association shall serve as the industry's chief advocate and spokesperson before the government and public and shall act to influence matters that impact the industry."
They come up with the some of the budget, the boys over at Civil Air Defense come up with their part and both get to do their pitch:
One being to sell paint, the other, fear.
I give it a five rating as an excellent example of blatant intimidation with a back end.
Subject: A little... too clean?
They mention to make sure you weed your garden, and plant flowers... What difference does that make?? Seems a little too emphasized on cleanliness, some things useless cleaning (for the sake of fire prevention)...
I got the idea that this was a movie bent on scaring the shit out of americans, so that they'd go into a ad baculum-induced cleaning frenzy.
Subject: Your safety protects my property value.
The highlights are the occasional film wobble which made me all reminiscent of technology I've never experienced (I started at VHS), rather obvious moments where the film stock is run backwards and some short but good shots of an atomic explosion.
Subject: Paint Up
Subject: Paint Can Be Your Protector
Subject: The Conversation:
Film producer: No problem.
Subject: Makes Sense to Me
After the Civil Defense sirens go off and I gather my family together in the basement bomb shelter of my home, I sure don't want to survive the blast only to be trapped and burned alive because the rest of the house is kindling. Seems like a layer of paint and a clean house/yard is a small price to pay for survival.
Binging it back to today...if my house looked that run down, then the homeowner's association or the zoning board would get to me long before a bomb would. Are they colluding with paint manufacturers, too? I don't think so. Are they forcing me into becoming a Stepford family? Nope.
Pretty convincing movie. I learned something new. Some cool footage of stuff blowing up, too.
Pretty decent advice. Pretty realistic too.
Too bad people are so 'cynical' and psuedo-scientific to heed the advice.
Subject: What a way to sell paint
My favorite quote: "Beauty, cleanliness, health and safety are the four basic doctrines that protect our homes, our cities." Who knew "beauty" had such a big role to play in case of atomic attack? Paint everything! Paint your family! Paint yourself!
Utterly ludicrous, and highly recommended.
p.s.: "The National Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau"? Huh?
Subject: The bomb is coming! tend to your garden!
Subject: Hmmm, sponsored by. . .
Subject: House in the Middle
Subject: The House in the Middle
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on You Can Beat the A-Bomb.
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